15 Jun 2015

Businesses worried about south coast swells

8:15 pm on 15 June 2015

Businesses and homeowners on Wellington's south coast say they will have to adapt to high seas spilling onto roads, but are urging the council not to give up on them.

The road near Wellington airport.

Flooding on the road near Wellington Airport on the south coast on 14 June 2015. Photo: Wellington City Council

The coast has been hit hard twice over in recent months by king tide sea swells of up to four metres high.

Maranui cafe co-owner Bronwyn Kelly standing in her flooded basement.

Maranui Cafe co-owner Bronwyn Kelly standing in her flooded basement. Photo: RNZ / Nick Butcher

Quentin Duff owns The Bach Cafe near Island Bay.

He said yesterday's big swell was a worry and, while the council has to prioritise retaining wall work against other jobs, south coast businesses were worth it.

"In our 13 years, this would be about the fourth time we've seen waves like this, in fact of the waves that have hit directly in front of us, yesterday's tides were the least of the four events.

"The other three occasions, we had severe damage to the car park and in 2002, we had waves lapping at the edge of the building, and tarseal was ripped up off the road," he said.

Down the coast at Houghton Bay, crayfisherman Phil Robinson said the massive swells meant it was no longer as simple as dropping the pots in the usual spot.

"It's a concern, because these swells are happening more often. It used to be a one in five or ten year event.

"It threatens my business, hopefully my pots will still be there. Some of the cray pots will be damaged and we have to move them out deeper when these sort of sea swells are predicted," he said.

At Lyall Bay, where sand and saltwater broke over retaining walls, hitting some seaside properties, the situation is much more threatening.

Builder Robbie Roberts, was today out fixing a fence at his son in law's home on the corner of Queens Drive, which is just a stones throw from the beach.

He said the first sea wall was washed away a year ago, and while a new wall has been built, it can only do so much to protect the house, and those inside.

"Honestly it doesn't matter what sort of sea wall you build out here, the size of those waves means they'll just come over the top, you just have to man the pumps when it does happen."

The basement of his son in law's home was flooded again yesterday.

"There's a lounge and bedroom down below and it could be waterproofed, but back in the old days I don't think they anticipated it being flooded like that."

Mr Roberts said it would be a big worry if a king tide hit and people were in the basement.

Erosion at a carpark at the eastern end of Wellington's Lyall Bay on 15 June 2015.

Erosion at a carpark at the eastern end of Wellington's Lyall Bay on 15 June 2015. Photo: RNZ / Michael Cropp

Maranui Surf Life Saving Club on the beach edge has been weathering big swells for over 100 years, but nothing as bad as the last two in recent weeks.

A co-owner of the top floor cafe, Bronwyn Kelly, said they recovered from fire damage, and the business can get through sea damage too, but it was tough.

"Currently the basement's flooded which has been a more common occurrence and even now with the beach washing up against the building, it sometimes hits the windows.

"It's a bit nervy, I turn up some days and water has flooded up to the door that leads onto the beach from my office," she said.

Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown said considerable work was going into planning for future big swells.

A passer-by watches high waves roll in during a storm surge at Lyall Bay on Wellington's South Coast.

A passer-by watches high waves roll in during a storm surge at Lyall Bay on Wellington's South Coast. Photo: Stephen Lynch

The tides washed up rocks near Wellington Airport.

The tides washed up rocks near Wellington Airport. Photo: Wellington City Council

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